What makes a career great?

From time to time, I reflect on things. Things that I find important. Things that I deem worthy, at a conscious level, of intellectual effort.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a career great. And since I value rationality above all and I happen to love bullet points, this is what I came up with.

The four qualities of a great career:

  1. I enjoy it
  2. I’m good at it
  3. I make good money
  4. I’m around fascinating people

There might be others, but I've limited myself to those I believe are the most important.

I'm not going to dissect the process of how one might find all of the above points mingled into a single opportunity. I find that to be a very personal endeavor, which leaves me in a place unable to speak for most.

But I do believe there's a small trick that can help with clarifying the above. You can flip the narratives from statements to questions that you then try to answer thoughtfully.

So you would answer the points above in reverse order:

  1. Where are fascinating people?
  2. In what ways can I make money with them?
  3. Which ones am I good at?
  4. Which ones do I enjoy?

I find the process of answering these questions to be of extreme importance. Both for people looking for new opportunities, as well as for companies looking to attract talent.

You can even take it a step further using one important mental model called inversion. People are used to phrasing their desires in simple statements, such as: "I want to be happy". Inversion flips this on its head and rephrases it as a question focusing on avoiding the negative. "I want to be happy" then becomes "How can I avoid being unhappy?". It's usually easier for people to answer what they don't want as opposed to coming up with thoughtful solutions to what they want.

In closing, regardless of how you rephrase your thoughts, I can only wish you clarity and peace of mind when dealing with them.